Now that you know what the quadratus lumborum muscle is and have mobilized it with these exhilarating QL stretches, you need to get your glutes and core turned on! You are probably tired of people saying “be more active,” but in all honesty, that is exactly what you need to do! For long term QL pain relief, corrective postural exercise is by far the most important preventive technique. Learning to control your core, pelvis, and glutes in functional movements like squats, lunges, and deadlifts will allow you to become aware of what is aggravating your QL muscle, and thus avoiding its tightness and adhesions from recurring.
The Strength Exercises
Before you can develop successful deadlifting and lunging patterns, you should start with the basics by focusing on planks, bridges, Romanian deadlifts, and squats. The plank is a classic core exercise that is easy to learn and extremely effective.
On your hands and feet, set yourself up in front of a mirror so that you can make sure your back is completely flat. If your back is arched, tuck your hips under using your glutes to flatten your lower back. Hold this for up to 2 minutes. If 15 seconds is all you can do, work your way up to 1 minute over the coming weeks. Drop to your knees if the plank is still too difficult.
This exercise is meant to strengthen the glutes! Start by lying down on your back with a tough resistance band or belt wrapped just below both knees. Bring your feet close to your butt and keep them hip width apart. Spreading your knees wide apart and without letting your feet lift off the ground, drive your hips into the air and hold for 3 seconds. Do 10-20 repetitions.
The Single-leg Romanian Deadlift (S/L RDL) is excellent for balance, core stability, and hamstring stretching and strengthening. Standing tall, place a pole or broomstick at the center of your back, making sure that it touches your head, mid back, and pelvis. While maintaining the 3 points mentioned above, lift one foot off of the floor and bend over as far as you can, keeping your upper body and leg in line. Point your toe to the ground and keep your hips level with the floor. Do 5-10 repetitions per side.
Side Glute Bridge
This exercise is excellent for activating your glutes, and doubles as a core strengthening exercise. You will start this position on your elbows with your knees bent at 90 degrees. Keep your knees slightly in front of your body and in line with your hand, as seen in the photos to the right. Lift both your bottom hip and top leg as high as you can without rotating your body. Drop your bottom hip and top leg halfway down, and then lift your hip and leg again. Do 10-15 reps per side. If done properly, you will feel this in the side of your glutes.
Like the S/L RDL above, place a stick on your back, making sure it is in contact with your head, mid-back, and pelvis. You will begin by hinging your upper body forward slightly and then bending the knees, squatting as low as you can without letting the stick come off of any of those three points.
Keep your body upright and your back flat. Be sure to spread the knees as far apart as you can and keep your whole foot in contact with the floor. If you are unfamiliar with squatting low, I suggest you squat down to a chair or a bench. Do 10-20 repetitions.
When executed properly, squats are extremely beneficial for reducing back pain. Every time you sit down in a chair or on the toilet, you are doing a squat, but I want you to learn how to squat as low as you can to allow you to pick objects up safely without bending over and compromising your quadratus lumborum muscle and spine.